“Unreserved, unrestrained / Your love is wild, Your love is wild for me. It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed. / Your love is proud to be seen with me.”“Pieces” – Bethel Worship
Sometimes you can hear the same song dozens of times, and that 31st time, it takes on a brand new meaning. When I first listened to “Pieces” by Bethel Worship, I thought about how the love of the Lord is beyond our understanding. In this world, the unashamed way he loves us would be considered embarrassing. And we aren’t used to being loved like that.
The song is on my most-listened playlist, often filtering through the house when I’m scrubbing last night’s sauce off the pan, when I’m zoned out in the pickup line making a grocery list in my head, as I’m hunched over my computer in the dark doing client work. But one time, the lyrics broke through the distractions, the complacency of the familiar melody, and probably some rambunctious children’s voices to show me something new.
It started with a question:
How often do we base our picture of God’s love on the way those who are closest to us are SUPPOSED to love us but cannot?
” Love keeps its promises. It keeps its word. It honors what’s sacred ’cause its vows are good. Your love’s not broken. It’s not insecure. Your love’s not selfish. Your love is pure.”
There’s no agenda or manipulation in God’s love like there is in broken people’s:
*He never withholds love to get what he wants because we are all he wants.
*His love’s not affected by our performance or merit because it’s based on who he is, and his nature never changes.
*He doesn’t look for us to fail so he can feel better about himself because he’s concerned with our good.
*There’s no threat or injury, no room for fear in his love because it’s full and whole, and in him we’re free.
All the broken families of origin, mean girls, unhealthy relationships, conniving co-workers have taught us to wait and see before letting anyone in, to keep one eye always open in our trust, and to carry a proverbial knife behind our back in the event we allow someone to know our old wounds and most vulnerable places.
But that’s not how God intended love and it’s something that needs to be reframed, retrained if we want the fullness and freedom of the proximity he offers us.
We crave intimacy, community, solidarity. On some deep level, we want our whole, true selves to be seen–scars, bad habits, junk drawers, and all–and loved anyway. But first, we have to strip the fears ingrained in us by the people who have failed us and let the Father love us. For me, that looks like making my heart soft where it wants to be hard. Being transparent when the world tells me I’m too much. Prying open my death-clenched fists when an open hand goes against every instinct. Sitting at the Father’s feet when I believe I haven’t done enough to deserve the rest.
“You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hide yourself to tease us.”
It’s hard and completely against human nature to love first, when it isn’t returned, without the safety of asterisks or conditions. But as we begin to grasp the nature of God’s love for a people who don’t deserve it, and let him love us the way only he can love, how can we not try?